2007 World Series: Shot out

I've written this post four times and revised just as many, because I had no idea how it was going to end. Would it be that Team PokerStars would have three people on the $1,500 Limit Hold'em Shootout final table? Would there be fewer? Or none? I was sure of the answer many different times, only to realize I had no idea what I was talking about.

Now, though, I feel safe in revealing that every cliche from here to the Museum of Trite phrases has come to mind today. I've considered "close but no cigar," "missed it by that much," and "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Of course, like most cliches, while appropriate, it just doesn't cover the spirit-crushing result.

When we entered Day 2 (in the middle of Round 2) of the $1,500 Limit Hold'em shootout, I had another big stable of positive-sounding cliches ready to use. Isabelle Mercier, Noah Boeken, Bill Chen, Terrence Chan, and Victor Ramdin all had a shot at making the final table. Chan was the only one among them who had made a final table so far this year.

Late last night, it looked like Isabelle was on her way. She looked up at me and said slyly, "I'm thinking--first cash, first bracelet." Today, she tried to make good on her prediction. She got heads-up in Round 2. If she could make it through just one opponent, she could make her first final table of this year's Series. Alas, she couldn't quite get there. Boeken, Chen, and Chan couldn't get there either. They all fell out in the middle of their tables and went to collect their six thousand bucks.

That left only Victor Ramdin.

Ramdin was all smiles last night as he jumped out to an early chip lead at his table. Today, even when he held a big chip lead over his heads-up opponent, he seemed pensive. It was likely concentration I was seeing. When play broke briefly to color up the 500 chips, Ramdin went to the rail for a moment to chat with his sweaters. He needed just a couple of good hands to make his first final table of the 2007 World Series.

That's when it all turned ugly. In the course of just a few hands, Ramdin's chip lead evaporated. He found himself trailing and in danger of a second-place finish at his table. He, like everybody, knew that going out in second place at his table was just as good as not showing up for Round 2.

There developed a pronounced animosity between Ramdin and his heads up opponent. For a while it seemed both men--both imposing figures--would rather punch each other than play cards. A limit hold'em event like this didn't allow for a big roundhouse punch. The men could only make quick jabs to the jaw or gut. Ramdin, however, wouldn't die. He punched, dodged, and punched back enough times to put Ishak Noyan on his heels.

Before long, every other table had broken. Both Ramdin and Noyan looked around, silently understanding one of them would make the final table and the other wouldn't have another chance to play until the Main Event. At one point, after an hour of heads-up play, it seemed all but certain Ramdin would win. Then Noyan made an ace with his A2, besting Ramdin's paired king.

The crippling blow finally came when Noyan's 2h3h made a flush on the turn to beat Ramdin's JhJx. A few minutes later, Ramdin was gone, officially a ninth place finish, but as far as he was concerned, no better than 72nd. The money was the same, and the 72nd finisher didn't spend nine and half hours in battle.

Nonetheless, it was a battle worth watching. Sometimes you just don't get there. The Main Event begins in less than 48 hours. If there's a time to get there, that will be it.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in